A View to a Kill (1985)

Posted: February 20, 2020 in James Bond
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And so we reach the end of the Roger Moore era, until Daniel Craig the longest any actor will carry the PPK (and Rog still made more films). For a long time I’d have counted this as the worst Bond film, and while it isn’t far off I think I can now safely say it isn’t the bottom anymore. Bland and tired it may be, but at least it isn’t as offensive as Octopussy.

The film doesn’t open too badly. The location shooting in Iceland looks great, even if Roger does increasingly look like George Hamilton, and cue Moore’s first dodgy pair of sunglasses in the film. Still, finding 003’s body and retrieving the microchip (futuristic!) is intriguing, and Bond’s escape from the Russian soldiers is well handled…well at least until he starts snowboarding to the Beachboys (though you could argue this still isn’t the worst surfing related scene in the franchise, but we’re some distance from that at the moment.)

Is that a toy helicopter Bond blows up?

Soon he’s safe and sound in his crazy ice flow submarine/boat thingy. I can forgive the Union Jack on the underside of the hatch, but the bloody thing doesn’t look like an iceberg, and it moves far too fast! Seriously how short-sighted are those Russians?

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Not that Bond cares, he’s too busy seducing his latest young lady. I mean you’re practically in James Woods territory now 007! (and the ever so slightly porn soundtrack doesn’t help).

Post titles we find Moneypenny dressed for a day at Ascot and find Q has a new sophisticated robot dog, which frankly looks a bit like Big Trak. M talks about microchips and declares they’re off to the races, hence Moneypenny’s hat.

They’re paying close attention to Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) whose horses have a strange habit of winning races they shouldn’t and whose companion is Grace Jones’ May Day, and they do make a striking pair. Helping MI6 out is Patrick Macnee as Sir Godfrey Tibbett, a horse trainer. I can see what they were aiming for here, another Avengers connection after Blackman and Rigg (and Lumley though that was accidental) and a man older than Roger, and it’s true that Moore and Macnee make for a great pair, but oh what a misstep this was. Just look at Bond, Tibbett, M, Q and Moneypenny, then look at Walken and Jones, it just highlights how old the good guys are.

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Bond’s next step is a meeting with a man named Aubergine (I kid you not) who appears to have escaped from Allo Allo. He’s soon murdered by May Day using a (presumably) poisoned fishing hook and Bond sets off in hot pursuit, chasing May Day up the Eiffel Tower. She proceeds to parachute towards the Seine. Not to give up 007 makes it to ground level before commandeering a taxi from another ludicrous French stereotype. I mean the guy’s drinking red wine with his lunch!

The parachute jump is impressive, as is the car stunts that see it first shorn of its roof, then it’s rear end. Shame Roger’s stunt double isn’t very convincing. Bond almost catches May Day (ruining another wedding in the process—seriously what is it with 007 and weddings? Never let this guy anywhere near your big day) but she escapes with Zorin. Oh for CCTV coverage, eh?

Bond and Tibbett hotfoot it to Zorin’s chateau which is a lovely setting, shame about another set of dodgy sunglasses, not to mention Bond being uber creepy to Tanya Roberts’ Stacey Sutton. For God’s sake man, take a hint!

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Still this is a decent section of the film. Bond and Tibbett get to do some actual spying before Sir Godfrey is throttled by May Day and Bond’s almost drowned after surviving Zorin’s insane killer steeplechase which is original if nothing else. It’s a shame about Tibbett, he really is a fun character. Not sure if breathing from a tyre would actually work but it’s a clever idea.

Oops I almost skipped over Bond and Mayday’s incredibly uncomfortable love scene. I’m not sure which one I feel sorrier for, Jones or Moore. Gotta love Zorin’s “Go on, shag him” shrug though.

Nice to see General Gogol again, and yes that is Dolph Lundgren as a KGB agent, he was dating Jones at the time and they were short an extra, so he stood in.

No sooner as Zorin quit the KGB than he’s going all Goldfinger by explaining his nefarious plan to some shady businessmen aboard his blimp (so very eighties!) unfortunately one of them wants to drop out…literally. Cue a very familiar scream.

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Bond heads to San Francisco and meets up with Chuck Lee CIA agent. Nah you can’t fool me that’s David Yip the Chinese Detective, mate, who’s about as American as I am! Bond infiltrates one of Zorin’s operations, and is almost captured, instead a KGB agent takes the fall, but not before his partner, played by Fiona Fullerton, makes off with a recording of Zorin describing operation Grand Slam, er I mean Main Strike

Fullerton is great as Pola Ivanova, though it is a shame they couldn’t persuade Barbara to come Bach and play Anya again though. I suspect the hot tub scene was a trifle comedic even before Austin Powers spoofed it. I do love Pola and Gogol’s double take when they realise Bond’s tricked them though.

AVTAK.pngBond then breaks into Stacey’s house before surprising her in the shower (#metoo 007 stop being creepy!) luckily some of Zorin’s goons show up to prove 007’s a nice guy really, and after seeing them off, cooking dinner and fixing her telephone, Bond’s actually a gentleman for once and tucks her in.

They try and warn the earthquake geology guy but he’s in cahoots with Zorin! Rather than killing Bond like a normal person might, Zorin leaves he and Stacey in a burning building. Stacey’s “Don’t leave me, James!” are a bit annoying, thankfully Bond does come back for her. He tries to explain to a cop what’s happened, but they’ve found earthquake geology guy dead and Bond’s gun. The cop’s “And I’m Dick Tracy” line implies he’s heard of Bond. Who hasn’t right?

The fire truck chase is ok.

DXpqoA8WsAAcrNmThe finale in the mine is well handled, Zorin’s massacre of his own men is wonderfully cold blooded, but May Day’s heroic turn to the side of good is a trifle unearned. There’s some nice work with the airship, and Bond’s confrontation with Zorin atop the Golden Gate Bridge is good though probably should have been more iconic than it turns out to be.

Bond getting the Order of Lenin is funny, but why do they think he’s dead? And why does Q send his robot dog into Stacey’s house and, most important of all, how does it get upstairs!

So long Roger, you were great but you should have quit a couple of films before. A View to a Kill isn’t offensive, it’s just all very bland, and Moore’s age by this point is acting against him. I know Cruise is around the age Moore was here and still doing Mission Impossible films, but he’s aged better (or had better surgery). Moore is close to 60 here and it shows (fair play though bet I don’t look that good at 58).

Zorin’s plan is bonkers, but it’s a fun idea, shame Zorin isn’t. I mean Walken as a Bond villain should be amazing, and maybe if he’d got the gig later and gone up against Dalton or Brosnan it would have been, but he just doesn’t have enough to work with. Zorin’s only defining trait is that he’s insane, I mean aside from being a Boy from Brazil anyway. Maybe Bowie or Sting would have been better?

Jones has presence, but can’t act to save her life, but when’s that stopped anyone becoming an iconic henchman?

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Sutton is actually better than I remember her being, and aside from her whininess at times and her insane trusting of Bond after he breaks into her house then lies about his identity multiple times, she has some agency. Looks good too, but much like the film she’s a forgettable Bond Girl.

Best thing about A View to a Kill? The Duran Duran theme tune, it’s awesome and remains in my top 5 of Bond themes. The video’s hilarious too.

So long Roger, five great Bond films out of seven ain’t a bad record.

Who will replace him though? Maybe they’ll get Remington Steele….

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